Saturday, December 19, 2009

Marking A Sad Anniversary Again


SIX YEARS...
Six years ago today at 6:37 p.m. my best friend since we were 5 years old passed away as a result of injuries sustained during a motorcycle accident on a remote desert road not too far from Las Vegas. He spent the last six weeks in the Trauma Intensive Care Unit in a hospital in Vegas before succumbing to an untreatable blood clog that finally took him. I've written many times about my friend and his brave battle. You can read a summary HERE.

MY FRIEND, THE SINGER
Today, as I mark this sad anniversary, I want to share one more element of my friend. I've mentioned in the past that he, among other things, was a self-taught musician, writing songs and forming a band in our youth. He recorded a few of his tunes and the lyrics of a couple of them are available on the internet. In fact, he performed on television as an opening act for The Righteous Brothers, Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley when they were beginning their careers.

UNDELIVERED MESSAGE
One of the sad ironies about Larry's passing is that the last email I sent to him - I didn't know he was off on a motorcycle tour with friends in Las Vegas - was to tell him that Bobby Hatfield had died of an apparent drug overdose in Las Vegas. My friend never got that message...

TWO TUNES TODAY

So, today I'll leave you with a couple video clips. One is of Bobby Hatfield singing his classic Unchained Melody. The second is another in my little series of Christmas selections for your listening pleasure. Enjoy..

BOBBY HATFIELD - UNCHAINED MELODY

LIBERA - GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

City, County Sign Fairgrounds MOU

CITY AND COUNTY TEAM UP - MAYBE
Last night, following a lengthy closed session, the Costa Mesa City Council re-convened their open session and voted to sign the Memorandum of Understanding between The City and the County of Orange for a joint-bid to purchase the Orange County Fair and Events Center, should the need arise.

MORE WOR
K NEEDED, BUT THEY APPROVED IT
Based on the
discussion held before the vote, it was clear that some members of the council and city staff feel there are some changes necessary to be hammered out for this MOU to actually work.

FOLEY - DON'T BUY IT, STOP IT!
Katrina Foley, for example, said she was reluctantly supporting this move be
cause she felt the best choice was to stop the sale of the Fairgrounds, not find a way to purchase it. She expressed concern that more effort should have been put toward stopping the sale instead of spending hundreds of hours of staff time preparing and negotiating the MOU.

RELENTLESS
While Foley is probably right on that issue, the fact remains that this sale continues to move, heading down hill like a runaway train. Unless the governor decides to cancel the sale or, if a miracle were to happen and Jose Solorio's AB1590 were to somehow actually get passed, there WILL be a sale on January 8, 2010.


POISON PILL
I think The City ha
s done much to make the Fairgrounds an undesirable purchase for anyone except those who would retain it as a Fairgrounds. The General Plan amendment and the proposed June ballot measure to further solidify the restrictions go a long way to telling any potential developer that The City WILL NOT approve any uses that are not consistent with the General Plan. It's hard to imagine developers wanting to take a very expensive shot at this property with that in place.

BID OPENING, 1/8/10, AUCTION ON 1/14/10

So, the beat goes on... According to the revised time line recently released by The State, yesterday was the deadline for questions on their Addendum #3. Responses to those questions will be posted on 12/22. Unless Sacramento somehow becomes the land of Christmas miracles, the next event will be the opening of bids on January 8th, followed by the auction at which the Fairgrounds will be sold to the highest qualified bidder.

WITH FINGERS CROSSED...
With that in mind, here's today's little bit of Christmas spirit...

ENYA - WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS


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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

One Final Acosta Point...

ONE LAST POINT...
Before we put the Benito Acosta issue to bed for once and for all, here's a little bit of information for you to chew on.

MY POSITION HASN'T CHANGED
My position has always been that Mansoor treated
Acosta differently than he treated his Minuteman pal, Jim Gilchrist, that evening. He permitted Gilchrist to speak longer than the three minutes permitted to each speaker and he allowed Gilchrist to have his 5 dozen or so sycophants in the audience that night stand to be recognize. Despite what our municipal court jester, Eric Bever, says, those folks were permitted to stand to show support.

BIAS ON THE DAIS
Thirty minutes later he refused to permit Acosta to do the same thing, cut his speaking time by thirty seconds and had him dragged from the court in a headlock. That clearly demonstrated a bias against Acosta. Now, even though Mansoor has told the press that his actions that night were not personal, I really find that hard to believe. One month earlier Acosta stood at the speaker's podium and called Mansoor a "f***ing racist pig" - an epithet that was unacceptable and should have resulted in him be
ing escorted from the auditorium at THAT time. Had I been Mansoor on the night of January 3, 2006, that event certainly would have been on my mind as Acosta once again stepped to the podium. I do not believe it wasn't on Mansoor's.

DUANE ROBERTS ON THE ORANGE JUICE BLOG
Today, over at the Orange Juice blog, occasional writer Duane Roberts provided us with yet another bit of perspective on this whole subject. Roberts had been a frequent speaker before the Costa Mesa City Council during those tumultuous times. He was one of many folks who stood and told the council they were wrong for closing the Job Center and for what appeared to be a program of making life miserable for the Latino population in our city.


SAME ACTION, NO REACTION - WHY?

One month after th
e Acosta incident - three hours into the council meeting of February 7th, 2006 - Roberts stood before the council and, after a short commentary on the First Amendment to the Constitution, asked those who supported the right of free speech to stand and be recognized, which they did. Mansoor did nothing at all to stop him, only admonishing him to speak to the council. If Mansoor's behavior a month earlier with Acosta was appropriate - and the jury this week apparently thought it was - then Roberts should have been ousted from the speaker's podium and dragged from the audience. You can read Roberts' essay on the Orange Juice Blog HERE.

MIXED FEELINGS
As I've said before, I have mixed feelings about this issue. I didn't like the disrespect Acosta showed our city council in the later days of 2005 and early in 2006. I thought his behavior in December was atrocious. I was concerned that if a jury found in his favor - I actually thought they would - it could cost our city a pile of money. On the other hand, if the result came out in favor of Mansoor and The City, it would - in my opinion - send a very unnerving message to those who may wish to exercise their free speech rights before our city council in the future. Time will tell...

WHAT IS THE DOLLAR COST?

The only remaining question I have now is just what did this whole thing cost the city in attorney fees and related costs. Perhaps Kim Barlow will inform us soon.



SOMETHING SPECIAL TONIGHT

Tonight I've chosen a special Christmas clip for your pleasure. I'm sure you'll understand...

JOSE FELICIANO - FELIZ NAVIDAD

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Monday, December 14, 2009

More Fairgrounds Questions

ACOSTA OVER, FAIRGROUNDS CONTINUES TO PERCOLATE
Well, even though the Acosta trial is now history, we still have our favorite subject, the sale of the Orange County Fair and Events Center, to occupy whatever spare time we have during this busy holiday season.

PLANNING COMMISSION CONSIDERS ISSUE TONIGHT
Tonight, Monday, the Costa Mesa Planning Commission will consider two issues essential to the modification of the General Plan as it affects the Fairgrounds. Inter
estingly, though, both items are part of the Consent Calendar, which means that unless one of the commissioners or a member of the public calls them out for special handling, the public will not know the views of the commissioners on this issue.

ANOTHER SPECIAL COUNCIL MEETING TOMORROW

Tomorrow, Tuesday, the Costa Mesa City Cou
ncil has scheduled another special meeting to discuss the possibility of forming some kind of a joint venture with the County. The Board of Supervisors will, apparently, also consider this issue earlier in the day.

HOW DO WE PAY FOR IT?

I've mentioned the OCProgressive blog a couple times recently. Today Gus Ayer posted yet another prescient entry, which can b
e found HERE. The thrust is particularly relevant considering that the two government entities mentioned above will be addressing this issue. His question is, basically, how do we pay for the darn thing?

WHO RUNS IT?

Further, I find myself wonder, if The County and The City do manage to find a way to bid on the Fairgrounds successfully, who's going to run it? And, since the current Fair Board is appointed by the governor to operate the Fair, will the board look elsewhere for a venue? What's to stop them? The General Services Department has said many times that bidders will be bidding on the land, not the existing businesses. Is it possible (probable?) that we just might be shooting ourselves in the foot by bidding on the Fairgrounds to keep as such?

All this swirling around and so many other things occupying our skulls - Christmas, budget, etc.

MORE CHRISTMAS CHEER

So, as you contemplate the events of the next day or so, here's yet another little Christmas ditty to mellow you out. I know you'll love this one.

3 & 1 YEAR-OLDS SING "RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER"

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Jury Finds For The City In Acosta Trial

JURY REJECTS ACOSTA'S CLAIM
As reported by Joseph Serna in the Daily Pilot just after 1:00 p.m today, the federal jury in the trial of the City of Costa Mesa and Mayor Allan Mansoor brought by the ACLU for Benito Acosta has found for The City. You can read Serna's account HERE. Those familiar with this case will find the error in Serna's reporting wherein he reports that Acosta called Mansoor a racist in the meeting in question. He did not. He did call Mansoor a racist in much more descriptive terms that were completely unacceptable and that I won't repeat here at the meeting a month earlier.

Ellyn Pak in the Orange County Register also wrote an article on this verdict HERE.

APPEAL UNKNOWN

It is unknown at this time whether Acosta will appeal this case.

LET THE GLOATING BEGIN

I fully expect the gloating and cat-calling to proceed now, as those folks who are ardent Mansoor supporters will jump on the anti-Acosta bandwagon.

TIME TO MOVE FORWARD
This issue is behind us now and, although the jury reached a verdict that, in my view, contradicts the video evidence, The City needs to move forward from this point.

Just in case you wish to view the whole scenario again, here's the YouTube clip of the event in question.

ACOSTA TOSSED FROM COSTA MESA COUNCIL MEETING - 1/3/06

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